Increase in norovirus-like illness seen in Ottawa County

Krystle Wagner • Mar 15, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Health officials are encouraging people to take precautions against a stomach bug that’s circulating in our area.

In a press release, Marcia Mansaray, senior epidemiologist for the Ottawa County Department of Public Health, said they are seeing an increase in the number of hospital emergency room visits related to “stomach virus-like complaints.”

“Schools, child care settings and physician offices are also reporting more stomach illness in the past few weeks,” Mansaray said. “To reduce the risk of illness in our community, people should take preventative measures to stay healthy.”

Symptoms of the norovirus-like illness include diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, fever, body ache and headache, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common places for outbreaks are those with enclosed settings such as day care centers, schools, nursing homes and cruise ships.

The virus is spread by coming in contact with contaminated stool or vomit. It’s spread by having physical contact with individuals ill with the virus, drinking or eating liquids and foods that are contaminated, and touching contaminated objects and surfaces and then putting your hand in your mouth.

People are most contagious from the time they begin feeling ill through the first few days they recover, according to the press release from the local health department.

Although the outbreaks of the norovirus can occur anytime of the year, more cases are reported between November and April.

Precautions you can take to ward off the virus include: staying home for at least 24 hours if you’re sick, disinfecting and cleaning contaminated surfaces with a bleach-based cleaner, washing hands with soap and water, avoiding handling and preparing food while ill, and thoroughly washing laundry.

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